The Chairman of the Civil Society Platform on Oil and Gas (CSPOG) Dr Steve Manteaw says the country needs to be ashamed for the delay in passing the Petroleum Exploration and Production Bill to replace the current law.
The bill which has been in parliament for some years now, is expected to be passed in the coming months to replace the current petroleum law (PNDC law 84) which is said to lack the full capacity to provide the requisite legal framework for oil and gas exploration and production in Ghana.
Speaking at a transparency and anti-corruption dialogue on June 14, on the way forward after the London summit, Dr Manteaw questioned why the enactment of the law had not been achieved after eight years of finding oil, when PNDC law 84 is deficient.
He noted for instance, that the current law’s capacity was called into question when KOSMOS Energy spilled toxic mud some years ago.
The minority leader in parliament Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, also present at the dialogue, bemoaned the absence of the law and echoed the sentiment of some experts who hold that Ghana began exploiting its hydrocarbon resources in a rush after the fanfare of discovery without due preparation.
“We don’t put the cart before the horse. The E & P law ought to have been in place before the Petroleum Revenue Management Law.”
“… we said to ourselves that immediately after, we are going to have the E & P Bill. How long has it taken? But blocks are being allocated on almost daily basis. What purpose is it serving, and who is saying there are no corrupt practices in that?” the minority leader asked.
While Ghana waits for the new law which among other things will open up competitive bidding for oil blocks, petroleum licenses are awarded through an open window system which experts admit does not necessarily award oil blocks to the most competent petroleum companies.
The Chief Executive Officer of the Petroleum Commission – the upstream regulator – Mr Theo Ahwireng has in time past, explained that while awarding of contracts under the present law is a genuine concern, the country needs to balance the wait for the new law, with its competition for attracting against other resource-endowed countries to attract foreign investment.
By Emmanuel Odonkor
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